Future of Lunenburg Opera House top-of-mind for arts community

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN PHOTO</p><p>Pamela Segger, left, and Inge Hatton of Lunenburg Doc Fest talk to civic politicians November 28 about the potential absence of an arts centre.</p>
  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN PHOTO</p><p>A crowd filled the Lunenburg Opera House on September 24 for Doc Fest, multi-day event that celebrates films and film making.</p>

The non-profit group that annually showcases documentary films in Lunenburg worries about possibility losing the Lincoln Street opera house as a venue and how other arts and cultural organizations could be impacted.

Organizers of Lunenburg Doc Fest approached civic politicians November 28, seeking support and advice concerning how the broader arts community could keep the entity operational.

Doc Fest co-chairwoman, Inge Hatton, told the town council meeting that it's challenging to approach service providers and potential sponsors when unable to wholeheartedly confirm which venue will be used.

Lunenburg Doc Fest officials explained that if the town considers itself to be a cultural hub, it needs to understand the possibility of not having the opera house available. The Doc Fest group assert that it's been said the venue may close until a buyer is found.

The opera house property has links to Farley Blackman and a Conquerall Bank company. LighthouseNOW reached out to Blackman on social media but didn't receive a reply.

The property is listed for sale at a price of $1.25 million. It's been on the market since June.

"The current owner had three goals when he purchased" the Lunenburg Opera House, an online property listing reads. "Save the building, to bring world-class acts to the stage and to provide year-round economic spin-off for the town. The building has been saved, while the second and third goals are in their infancy.

"The owner is looking for an individual or group to become the future and long-term stewards of the Lunenburg Opera House. Special consideration will be given to those who share and will continue the vision."

Mayor Rachel Bailey told Hatton, who presented to council along with Doc Fest executive director Pamela Segger, that the talk of a potential absence of shared performance venue is part of a broader discussion about a cultural strategy for the community.

Segger told council about Doc Fest's growth and success over the years. The event has been attracting standing room only crowds at the opera house, which seats 250 people. The festival's garnered so much attention, Segger explained, supporters have considered opening up the balcony to accomodate more attendees.

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